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Law Library News

Law Library News Archive

May 9, 2005.
Kristy Moon, editor.


Summer Job Tips (Part 1)

--Kristy Moon

It’s really hard to believe that we’re already in the month of May. The days are getting longer, and T-shirts and shorts are becoming more visible. This means it’s not too early to start thinking about summer – trips, reading list, and… your summer job (not necessarily in that order). I know, you first have to get through final exams, but who knows if you’ll stick around after your last exam to read this column! So here it goes.

A panel of local practitioners met with law faculty last quarter to discuss how law schools can better prepare their students for real world practice of law. During the discussion, the panel mentioned that they would like to see more of certain qualities or skills in law students. The following is a paraphrase of what they said - keeping these tips in mind may make your summer job experience more successful.

  • Better Writing Skills

You already know how important it is to be able to write well. After all, you are entering a profession where you’re paid not just for your ideas but how you express those ideas. So it’s not a bad idea to always try to improve your writing. If you want help on getting started, take a look at the Library’s guide at http://lib.law.washington.edu/ref/writing.htm.

  • Personal Skills

A lot can fall under this category but one thing that the panel brought up in particular was email in the workplace. Some were appalled at email style used in a professional setting, and others thought law students lacked an understanding of legal ramifications of email in the workplace (for a spotlight on the latter topic, read the next few weeks’ Law Library News).

  • Negotiating Skills

One of the panel members expressed that a negotiation class should be required in law school.

  • Passion for Work

This is self-explanatory, so I don’t know what more to say other than show enthusiasm, ask questions, and let it show if you think the work is interesting and worthwhile. If not, don't grouse about it (at least not publicly).

  • Issue Spotting

The panel decried issue spotting. In contrast to a typical law school exam where the name of the game is issue spotting (heck, if you run out of time, you may still get partial points for jotting down the issues without analysis), the panel said they want to be told about the two most important issues, not all the issues that you see.

  • Group Work

Ah, the importance of working in groups and brainstorming...

  • Time and Project Management

Moot court board experience was mentioned as being valuable but any experience organizing an event such as finding and reserving the venue, lining up speakers, and forming contingency plans is valuable.

Summer Job Tips Parts 2 and 3 are coming in the future issues of the Law Library News.

Library Displays – New

Did you see the two additional law student organizations now featured in the glass display cases as you walk into the Library? Our staff member Nikki Pike created these wonderful displays on the Student Health Law Organization and Phi Delta Phi. They’re right next to the existing display on International Law. Check them out!

How Can Something So Wrong Feel So Right?: Reading Ethics Opinions for Fun

--Beth Williams, Law Library Intern

I admit it. I’m not proud, but I can’t help myself. Every month I receive my Maine Bar Journal in the mail and I head straight to the back for the disciplinary notices. It’s like a siren song of guilty pleasure, taunting me to heed the cautionary message without cracking the slightest smile of disbelief at the conduct of my fellow bar members. That wasn’t me emailing my old boss a copy of the court order temporarily suspending an attorney who’d brought new meaning to the term “opposing counsel” in a particularly difficult case I tried last year. No, ma’am – not me.

But trying to hide my shame only makes it worse. As ironically unprofessional as it sounds, sometimes these decisions are just plain funny. More to the point, sometimes they’re just so awful; they can contain descriptions of attorney conduct that seems so outrageous that your first instinct is to laugh. But I think the laughter hides a secret. I could never do that (“ha, ha”), could I? What drives attorneys to make the kinds of mistakes that cost them their practice, their pride, their reputation? Ah, the drama of reading disciplinary opinions! It’s nothing like reading Kant’s second Critique, but there are more similarities than you may think. So read a few as I do and go ahead and laugh a little in private, but don’t forget that these people were once students, too, hoping and planning to become lawyers one day.

(Okay, so I misled you a little with my title. Disciplinary decisions aren’t technically ethics opinions, but it’s a little hard to get fired up about reading formal ethics opinions and certainly harder to turn a phrase with “disciplinary” in it.)

Where can you find these materials and additional guidance on all things ethical on the Web?

  • Be sure to visit the Gallagher Law Library’s research guide on Washington State Ethics Opinions at http://lib.law.washington.edu/ref/waethics.html. Note in particular the Washington State Bar Association’s search engine for disciplinary notices at http://pro.wsba.org/PublicDisciplineSearch.asp.
  • For a list of lawyer disciplinary agencies in every state, visit the ABA’s Center for Professional Responsibility at http://www.abanet.org/cpr/regulation/scpd/disciplinary.html. Nearly every state publishes their code or rules, their formal and informal ethics opinions, and their disciplinary decisions on these websites.
  • The ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct is a loose-leaf in three parts: a regularly updated manual on professional conduct, a current awareness publication, and several volumes of ethics opinions from the ABA and the states. This resource is available to you in a variety of formats:
    • Law School students, faculty and staff may access an online version through the Library’s catalog record by doing a title search for this loose-leaf and then clicking on “Connect to this title on the Internet.” Once you’re in the BNA database, under “Ethics Opinions” click on either “ABA Ethics Opinion” or “State Ethics Opinions” to see primary materials. Additionally, under “Ethics Rules” there are links to the ABA Model Rules and states’ ethics rules. Note also that the Web site has electronic versions of a number of practice guides.
    • On Westlaw (ABA-BNA) – ethics opinions from 1986 through current.
    • The online versions are great, particularly if you already know what you’re looking for; but for browsing, I recommend using the print volumes (available at KF 305 A8 A23 1984 in Reference Area).
  • Cornell’s Legal Information Institute Web site has an entire section devoted to this subject called the American Legal Ethics Library at http://www.law.cornell.edu/ethics/. This digital library contains the codes or rules for professional responsibility with commentaries for each state.
  • The topic of April 2005 edition of Law Practice Today, an ABA publication, is malpractice. Check out its list of legal ethics Web sites at http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/slc04051.html.